Background of Labelling Initiative
Labelling initiatives consist of an identifying mark on a product that indicates that the item was produced with certain standards or values in mind. Each labelling initiative tends to focus on a single concern of socially conscious shoppers. The first widespread, successful labelling initiative, the Fairtrade label, was created in 1988 out of concern that coffee producers in developing economies were reaping relatively little reward for their labor, especially in comparison to enterprises further down the coffee value chain located in the developed world. Products with the Fairtrade label provided assurance to consumers that the coffee producers received a more equitable share of the profits of the coffee industry. The Fairtrade label can now be found on dozens of products that are cultivated or manufactured in the developing world.
Following the outpouring of consumer support for Fairtrade-labelled products, other labelling initiatives were devised to address concerns across a range of industries. A Dolphin Safe labelling initiative was
devised in 1990 for the tuna industry, to provide incentives (i.e. increased sales) to tuna processing companies to equip their fishing boats with nets that did not inadvertently entrap and drown dolphins. More relevant to Afghanistan, the GoodWeave labelling initiative was founded in 1994 to reduce the use of child labor in the rug-making industry. GoodWeave now has a physical office in Afghanistan that certifies Afghan carpets designated for foreign export.
The labelling initiative that serves as the most immediate inspiration for the MBAW partners is the Women Owned label. As with the MBAW initiative, the Women Owned label is the result of work from a number of partners, to include the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), WEConnect International, and the American retail giant Walmart. Businesses with a majority share of women ownership (51% or more) can qualify to place a Women Owned label on their products, with thousands of these products placed on Walmart’s shelves.